Resistance to shock in Eastern Partnership – EU approach vs. NATO variant. IPN debate

Starting with 2020, the European Union will apply a new concept in relation to the countries of the Eastern Partnership (EaP), in accordance with which these will be offered to ensure more state resilience or resilience to shocks, crises, major challenges, both domestic and foreign. In this regard, the EU comes up with proposals and also with significant support. What this new concept envisions, what capacity and political will are there in the EaP countries, especially in the Republic of Moldova, to ensure a sufficient level of state resilience and what the affinities and differences of the state resilience concept are in the EU’s view compared with the resilience concept that is already put into practice by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the NATO member states were discussed by experts who took part in the public debate “Resistance to shock in Eastern Partnership – EU approach vs. NATO variant” that was staged by IPN News Agency.

IPN’s senior contributor Dionis Cenușa, a political scientist, researcher at the Institute of Political Sciences at Liebig-Justus University in Giessen, Germany, said the EaP is a dimension of the EU’s foreign policy that covers six neighboring states of Eastern Europe, among which is the Republic of Moldova. The initiative was launched in 2009 following Russia’s military intervention in Georgia. “Practically, this was the event that stimulated the discussions at European level concerning the necessity of a more special and extensive relationship with Eastern Europe. This was primarily due to the cooperation between Sweden and Poland, which at that moment managed to persuade the other states to go on with such an initiative from which we all, as the citizens of the Republic of Moldova, benefit,” stated Dionis Cenușa.

According to him, the EaP initiative is important as it creates a separate version of Brussels in relation to its Eastern neighbors. This reveals the necessity of paying greater political attention and more financial and technical assistance for promoting particular reforms or for transforming, in general, the region into a more stable, prosperous and resilient area. “So, in 2009, there was launched the given initiative and recently, in March 2020, the European Union launched a new communication on what will happen to the EaP region after 2020. The new efforts will lay emphases on resilience, which will mean that the EU is interested in building internal capacities in each country that is part of this area so that these resist internal and external crises,” said the scientist.

He also said that it goes to the adjustment to new emergency situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. “So, state resilience means the development of the state’s capacities to cope with important external crisis and crises generated by internal deficiencies of the state. This also means the adjustment of the states to the new realities. So, we speak about two aspects – resilience and adjustment. The benefits for the Republic of Moldova and the other five states are evident.  With the assistance of European know-how in terms of legislation, regulations, technical assistance, the six countries can develop capacities that they never had given that they are relatively young states or to strengthen the existing capacities so as to deal with the challenges of the 21st century, in 2020 and post-2020,” noted Dionis Cenușa.

Political analyst Anatol Țăranu, historian, said the fact that the EU comes with a new concept points somehow to the necessity of revising the policies that are pursued by the EU in this area. “In 2009, when the EaP appeared, some of the components of this Partnership had illusions that during a relatively short period of time they will be even able to join the EU. At least they wanted to have a very clear perspective as regards the entry into the EU. The ten years showed that the situation is very difficult and these expectations in a way were too optimistic,” stated Moldova’s former ambassador to Russia. According to him, when it goes to the capacity to resist shocks, we should also speak about the non-homogeneity of the EaP.

“The countries of the EaP are very different, starting with Belarus, for which resilience to democracy is the most important and topical, and ending with Azerbaijan and Armenia, which are almost in a state of war at present. There are also Ukraine, which acutely feels the consequences of a foreign military intervention on its territory, and the Republic of Moldova that actually faces the consequences of a former military intervention and an ongoing secessionist conflict. It’s frozen, but continues to affect the Republic of Moldova,” explained the historian.

The political analyst considers that in the case of the Republic of Moldova, state resilience is probably the most topical one and this is greatly due to that internal dispute existing in society as regards the prospects of this statehood. “We should not forget that society in the Republic of Moldova is profoundly divided according to the country’s affiliation to a particular model. There is the Moldovenist component of Moldovan society and its members believe that the Republic of Moldova should be a separate, sovereign, independent state with all the elements. In this case, resilience is of a particular kind.  There is also another part of society that believes that the Republic of Moldova cannot exist as an independent state because it does not have this survival capacity. This is the unionist current, which considers that the Republic of Moldova, from the viewpoint of state organization, is a transitory element towards what is called the national Romanian state of which the Republic of Moldova could form part if the natural historical processes that happened in Europe were restored, with all the consequences. From this viewpoint, I think state resilience is the most important one today,” noted Anatol Țăranu.

Elena Mârzac, executive director of the Information and Documentation Center on NATO, said that resilience indeed shows the state’s capacity to resist attacks, shocks and the capacity to adjust oneself to the security environment. “If we compare the experience of the European Union and NATO, I would say that the EU is much more oriented to the societal human aspect.  Until recently, until 2016, NATO was oriented to a military aspect. Indeed, this element of resilience is also met in the initial declaration on the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949, which was based on article 5 that tells us about “self-help” and also about this mutual assistance,” she stated.

According to Elena Mârzac, first of all, the resilience feature of a state that is a NATO member is having state sufficiency by creating resistance inside the state. Later, this resistance should contribute to the security of the other members. “If we look at article 3 of this declaration, we will find more elements that refer to resistance, such as: the sides, separately or together, by continuous self-help and mutual assistance approaches, will maintain and develop the individual and collective capacity. This resistance term appears more after 2010, after the Lisbon Summit, and appears in the declaration of the Warsaw Summit of 2016. But there is a difference from the European Union as this focuses on prevention, anticipation, understanding and adjustment in contrast to the resilience term in NATO’s viewpoint, when we base on the military capacities and also on civil support to accomplish this military mission,” stated the Center’s director.

She noted that in the case of NATO states, the responsibility is borne first of all by the governments and then particular problems are solved through multilateral cooperation that is NATO’s basis. “In the classical meaning, resistance or resilience, we use both of the terms, in the case of NATO implies the state’s capacity to cope, including with hybrid threats, and the effort of the member states to resist and to counteract together these risks and vulnerabilities. I would like to note that resilience is not the opposite of vulnerability. It is rather the capacity or existence of particular factors to mitigate these vulnerabilities. So, it goes to the states’ readiness to cope with risks and vulnerabilities, to prepare the military system and the civilian one and also the private one as these three system only together can resist and cope with these shocks and risks,” stated Elena Mârzac.

The debate “Resistance to shock in Eastern Partnership – EU approach vs. NATO variant” was the 148th installment of the debates project “Developing political culture through public debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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